Fish And Tea

Click this icon to hear Derry Down if it does not automatically play.
<bgsound src="derrydown.mid">

   In 1775, after the British Parliament had rejected the petition of the Colonies, and declared them to be in a state of rebellion, the following lines were set to tune. The song was intended as a jab at the Coercive Acts of 1774, and also the Newfoundland Fisheries Act of 1775. The latter act prohibited New England fishermen from fishing in the waters surrounding Newfoundland.

  One of the tunes commonly used for this song was that of Chevy Chace [see Unhappy Times Of Late]. The lines were also sung to another tune: Derry Down, which is presented here.

What a court hath old England, of folly and sin, Spite of Chatham and Camden, Barre, Burke, Wilkes and Glynn!
Not content with the game act, they tax fish and sea, And America drench with hot water and tea.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.
Lord Sandwich, he swears they are terrible cowards, Who can't be made brave by the blood of the Howards;
And to prove there is truth in America's fears, He conjures Sir Peter's ghost 'fore the peers.
Now, indeed, if these poor people's nerves are so weak, How cruel it is their destruction to seek!
Dr. Johnson's a proof, in the highest degree, His soul and his system were changed by tea.
But if the wise council of England doth think, They may be enslaved by the power of drink,
They're right to enforce it; but then, do you see? The Colonies, too, may refuse and be free.
There's no knowing where this opposition will stop; Some say - there's no cure but a capital chop;
And that I believe's each American's wish, Since you've drenched them with tea, and depriv'd 'em of fish.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.
The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, By the gods, for poor Dan Adam's use were made free,
Till a man with more power, than old Moses would wish, Said, "Ye wretches, ye shan't touch a fowl or a fish!"
Three Generals these mandates have borne 'cross the sea, To deprive 'em of fish and make 'em drink tea;
In turn, sure, these freemen will boldly agree, To give 'em a dance upon a Liberty Tree.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.
Then freedom's the word, both at home and abroad, And ------ every scabbard that hides a good sword!
Our forefathers gave us this freedom in hand, And we'll die in defence of the rights of the land.
Derry down, down, hey derry down.


   Note: The midi file linked to this page was sequenced by Mudcat Cafe, whose website is located at: